Before I start, let me say I am not pro- Congress. The thought of Rahul Gandhi becoming Prime Minister makes me laugh but sober up immediately at the thought of it becoming real. So please do not leave comments drawing comparison to the Congress ruled years or the 1984 riots. I am not here to justify their acts. It is equally shameful if not more considering they have been in the ruling government pretty much majority of the years in majority or coalition.
The reason I write this is because I see a strange fervour in the eyes of urban, middle and upper-middle class India. My family is included in this as well. I see well-educated, largely cynical , politically apathetic people seeing Narendra Modi as a solution to all problems that mire India.
There are articles on Tehelka and the Open Magazine which offer a view into his PR machinery and how the backend to create this mythical persona works. What surprises me is the willingness to consume media which talks about Modi’s “Rambo act” during Uttarakhand tragedy but the unwillingness to acknowledge there could be a possibility of other truths. There are articles on how blatantly the weaknesses of social media is being exploited (being able to buy followers on Twitter) to shape public opinion. Yet I see youth from premier institutions of education, working population from reputed firms and senior citizens who have been prolific in careers of law, medicine and literature looking away because it is inconsistent with what they want to believe.
When I mention 2002, there are two kinds of responses I get. One which says yes, it happened but look at all the development since then and look how even the Muslims are now happy. The other which immediately talks about the 1984 Sikh massacre and asks me challengingly “why don’t you ask the Congress about this”.
Sadly, neither of the two responses accept the gravity of what went wrong in 2002. For the first time in India, television was so pervasive that during a riot we could see the fire, people running with swords and deserted streets filled with smoke while sitting in our homes. Even then, it slowly seems to be fading from our collective memory. What happened in 1984 was wrong. What happened in 2002 was also wrong.
The belief that Narendra Modi is the champion of development, he can turn around our corruption laden bureaucracy, he is decisive and action oriented are all our projections because that is what we want fixed in our leadership. We are looking for a messiah to take care of all these huge problems. We do not want to think about these problems being endemic and that it will take a long time to be resolved. We want them done now and more importantly we don’t want to have much to do with it apart from electing one person and then washing our hands off saying “my job in democracy is done”.
For the vision of change that we have, we need to step up and start engaging more with local politics and decision making. I am not saying we should drop what we are doing and stand for elections. But we need to engage with the ward officers, municipal corporations and civic authorities to start bringing change. We need to participate, ask questions and push for things to be done. If we want to have a say on foreign policy then we need to petition, have debates, make our voices heard and push for action.
That is just too much work isn’t it. It is simpler to share news articles or photos on Facebook, follow jingoistic lines on Twitter and wait for 2014 for a miracle to strike. Makes us feel like we are participating in Indian democracy and at the same time not really pushing us out of our comfort zone either.
If our defense is that this is the best we can do or we are picking out of a finite lot of rotten apples or rhetorically asking “would you rather be governed by an Italian and her son”, I think it is just sad that we have come to this point where these are the reasons to choose who governs 1.2 billion people.
Elections are not where our job ends but where our job begins. If we want to clean up this mess, we need to get involved.
The messiah we want does not exist.